Sturdy jobs report eyed, may put December Fed taper on table

Tue Dec 3, 2013 4:16pm EST
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By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. job growth likely remained solid in November, with the unemployment rate falling, which could bring the Federal Reserve a step closer to curtailing its massive monetary stimulus.

Nonfarm payrolls are expected to have increased by 180,000 last month, according to a Reuters survey of economists. That would be down from October's 204,000 jobs gain and just off the 186,000 monthly average for the first 10 months of the year.

"October's stronger-than-expected payrolls report was probably not an aberration. Evidence points toward a pick-up in U.S. hiring this fall," said Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody's Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

First-time applications for unemployment benefits have been declining, small business hiring is improving and a national manufacturing survey on Monday showed a measure of factory jobs at its highest level in 1-1/2 years in November.

But some economists caution that because the Thanksgiving holiday was late in November, the government's survey of employers could yield a payrolls number below the Reuters consensus estimate.

"There is usually a lot of seasonal hiring in the run-up to the holiday season, concentrated in the retail sector," said Daniel Silver, an economist at JPMorgan in New York.

"Although this seasonal hiring could be anticipated by the seasonal factors (used to adjust the data), we have seen a few instances in the past where late Thanksgivings have resulted in softer November payroll data than the trend for the surrounding months."

The unemployment rate is forecast slipping a tenth of a percentage point to 7.2 percent after federal government employees returned to work.   Continued...

Charmaine Lam (R) from the company American Income talks to job seeker Brittany Johnson, 28, at a job fair in Los Angeles, California, November 18, 2013. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson